Pharmacies Prepare for Naloxone Standing Order

On June 1st a law will go into effect easing access to naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses, at local pharmacies through a statewide standing order.

The Baltimore Business Journal reports on how the Baltimore City Health Department and pharmacies across the city are working to prepare for the change:

The move is another step in the effort to reduce opioid deaths in the state and city. Gov. Larry Hogan has declared Maryland’s opioid epidemic a state of emergency, after fatal heroin overdoses nearly doubled between January and September 2016 compared to the previous year, and fentanyl deaths quadrupled. In total, deaths from these two opioid drugs spiked to 1,656. In March, Hogan signed an executive order for $50 million in new funding to go toward addressing the crisis.

The new order will allow Baltimore pharmacies to freely distribute naloxone, a drug previously reserved only for those with a doctor’s prescription or a certification from the Maryland Overdose Response Program. The response program — the result of another standing order that was passed in 2015 — offers hands-on training and certification in recognizing and responding to opioid overdose with the drug. Once someone completed the training, they were free to purchase the overdose drug. But now, anyone and everyone will be able to purchase it.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said the problem with the training program is that it can be a “cumbersome” process to become certified. Other states have already eliminated such requirements, Wen said, and with Maryland’s current state of emergency, it makes sense to make the life-saving drug as accessible as possible.

“We have to eliminate every barrier that exists to saving lives. And in this case, it was mostly an administrative barrier anyway,” she said. “Now that we have eliminated that training requirement, it means naloxone can be given nearly over-the-counter.”

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Business Journal